The federal Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) defines “research misconduct” as “fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in proposing, performing, or reviewing research, or in reporting research results” (see accompanying box for details). It also sets the legal threshold for proving charges of misconduct.
To be considered research misconduct, actions must:
- Represent a “significant departure from accepted practices”
- Have been “committed intentionally, or knowingly, or recklessly”
- And be “proven by a preponderance of evidence.”
This policy applies to federally-funded research and proposals submitted to Federal agencies for research funding. It thus applies to research conducted by the Federal agencies, conducted or managed for the Federal government by contractors, or supported by the Federal government and performed at research institutions, including universities and industry.
by National Science Foundation 45CFR 689
689.4 Role of awardee institutions.
(a) Awardee institutions bear primary responsibility for prevention and detection of research misconduct and for the inquiry, investigation, and adjudication of alleged research misconduct. In most instances, NSF will rely on awardee institutions to promptly:… complete an inquiry.
When referring an inquiry or investigation to a grantee institution, the Inspector General should require that the grantee institution provide a copy of the policy under which it will conduct the inquiry and investigation and the curriculum vitae of each person who is conducting the inquiry and/or investigation. The curricula vitae should be reviewed in consultation with the Office of General Counsel for indicators of possible conflicts of interest.
“The Federal Policy requires a research institution to notify the funding agency (or agencies in some cases) of an allegation of research misconduct if (1) the allegation involves Federally funded research (or an application for Federal funding) and meets the Federal definition of research misconduct, and (2) if the institution’s inquiry into the allegation determines there is sufficient evidence to proceed to an investigation”